How to Save Money and Get the Most Out of Web Conferencing Capabilities

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Web conferencing has become more commonplace in today’s business environment due to the availability of reliable software applications such as skype, GoToMeeting and Cisco’s Webex. A detailed review and analysis of the best selling web conferencing software platforms is provided by G2 Crowd here.

Web conferencing software platforms offer the basics such as voice and video conferencing; screen sharing, live chat and recording.

 More sophisticated products offer more advanced features to simulate a broader conference experience as well as follow up capabilities.

When used properly, web conferencing can significantly reduce the cost of having a productive meeting that may have required many people to travel to the meeting location. The best advantage of using web conferencing is the ability to collaborate with many employees, customers or vendors without having to travel. Unlike a voice conference, where it may be difficult to fully interact with the meeting attendees, web conferencing offers the convenience of being together virtually for the discussion. More importantly, with screen sharing there is no guess work needed to determine exactly where in the meeting material the presenter is speaking from, as can often be the case on a voice conference.

Web conferences demand more attention on the part of the meeting participants because while on camera, it is not possible to attend to the usual distractions such as checking email, texting or doing other interruptive tasks that may get in the way of being fully being engaged and tuned in to the meeting.

The reality is that web conferencing is as close to a face-to-face meeting because meeting attendees are able to interact visually on a Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone screen.

In many ways, a web conference is similar to both a telephone conference and a face-to-face meeting. However, it is also a newer and unique way to conduct business.

 To that end, here are some web conferencing tips to ensure that speakers and participants are all getting as much out of the meeting as possible.

 

1. Log on to the web conference 10-15 minutes prior to the actual start time.

Unlike a face-to-face meeting where realistically the only technical glitch that you may encounter might be going to the wrong conference room, with a web conference there are a variety of technology issues that could prevent you from being on time.  Some of these issues include, but are not limited to the speed of the network; not having the correct meeting name and password combination; or having a link to a web conference that has already expired. Knowing that many variables can confound your ability to be on time for the web conference, you should strive to be on time by logging on early so that you have time to resolve any technical or logistical issues before the web conference begins.

 

2. Use the Voice Mute and Disable Camera Features.

There is nothing worse than being on a voice conference call while one of the participants has neglected to mute the phone and is either typing during the meeting, or is having a side discussion with others while all conference participants can hear this!

If a web conference participant is not presenting, or asking/answering a question, the voice mute feature should always be used.

Similarly, if the web conference has a split screen capability and is broadcasting the web cam view of several meeting participants/presenters, be aware that everyone on the web conference is able to see what you are doing.  This is every bit as distracting, as disrupting the meeting by typing or talking without enabling the mute feature. If you will be a presenter and want to go off camera for a portion of the meeting, be sure to send a photo of yourself to the web conference organizer that can be shown on the participants’ screens when you disable your web cam.

 

3. Chat only when it is relevant to the web conference.

Most web conferencing platforms allow participants to chat with one another during the web conference. When participants use this feature to chat about topics that are not related to the meeting subject, it can be distracting to all meeting participants.  The non-virtual meeting equivalent of this is a side-bar conversation, for example, among two or more meeting attendees that are whispering about their weekend plans. Unless the chat is on topic, or it is a question for the presenter, it does not belong.